Excellent rating re-awarded to Balnarring Preschool

Date awarded: 6 July 2017

Valid until: 20 August 2023

Balnarring Preschool has been re-awarded the Excellent rating by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), the highest rating a service can achieve under the National Quality Framework.

The Victorian based service was recognised for its collaborative partnerships with professional and community organisations and inclusive partnerships with children and families that celebrates culture and diversity. It was also recognised for its positive workplace culture and organisational values, sustained commitment to professional development and support of educators, and practice and environments that enhance children’s learning and growth.

Examples of exceptional practice at the service include:

  • Establishing an annual community festival to honour and celebrate Australia’s First Peoples within the broader community. The annual festival, facilitated by the service in collaboration with local First Peoples, provides an opportunity for community members to continue their learning and understanding of the world’s oldest living culture. Local community members can experience First Peoples’ stalls and actively engage in entertainment and cultural workshops such as:
    • weaving
    • storytelling
    • bush tucker walks
    • boomerang wood burning.
  • Introducing different teaching initiatives to ensure the service continues to abide by strict COVID-19 restrictions that ensured the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, children and families. An extensive range of open-ended materials and resources were available for families to collect from the service and incorporate into their home learning.  The staff regularly hold zoom catch-ups for families to ensure they stay connected and to discuss common stresses, such as working at home with young children. Additionally, the service ensures staff feel comfortable and are supported in making decisions around their own working conditions; working from home or within the service.
  • Being in regular contact with local First Peoples to seek guidance with challenging past and current understandings of what it means to be an Australian in the 21st Century. All staff are confident to contribute to the service’s pedagogical philosophy and practices by ensuring that they remain respectful of First peoples’ cultures, understandings and knowledges. A First Peoples Children’s book author entrusts the children of Balnarring Preschool to illustrate her books annually. As children engage with the stories, their knowledges of Boon Wurrung culture continues to grow. These books have supported children, families, teachers and educators to embed First Peoples perspectives into the program both on a local and national scale.
  • An annual Family Camp, providing an opportunity for children to lead and share their Bush and Beach Kinder learning with others in nature. Alongside the teaching team, children and families can reflect on the year within the same Bush and Beach location that the children frequently visit throughout the year.
  • Creating a teacher club for graduate and experienced teachers to reflect on specific topics, share thoughts, discuss challenges and pedagogical practices.
  • Organising an annual conference day focusing on learning from First Peoples and outdoor environments. Each conference includes public speakers and workshops to support participants to comprehend how to create a culturally safe environment themselves.

As a leader in the sector, Balnarring Preschool inspires children, families, community members and the wider sector to explore First Peoples’ knowledges, understandings and culture. The service helps to ensure their positive impact reaches beyond the children and families who access their service.

About the Excellent rating

Services that receive ‘Exceeding National Quality Standard’ in all seven quality areas can apply to ACECQA for the Excellent rating. The Excellent rating is awarded for three years. After this time services have the option to re-apply.